About this project
WE'RE FUNDED! ANNOUNCING 4 STRETCH GOALS!
1. The $23,000 Stretch Goal: Extra Bonus Clips
If we raise an extra $3K, all Backers will get a couple of extra outtakes (above the 5 that are included in the $50 pledge).
2. The $25,000 Stretch Goal: The Producer
If we raise an extra $5K, we'll have enough money to hire an established Development Producer who will bang on the doors of TV networks, Netflix, Hulu, etc....
3. The $30,000 Stretch Goal: Film Festivals
If we raise an extra $10K, we'll use the money to enter as many film festivals as we can afford! Film Festivals increase the publicity of your film or TV show. Buyers troll such festivals to acquire promising videos.
4. $40,000 Stretch Goal: 2nd episode!
If we raise an extra $20K, we can make the 2nd episode! It will cover Mauritania, and perhaps Senegal, Cape Verde, and The Gambia! Why is it the same price as the pilot? Because the Producer and Film Festivals will chew into our costs.
IMPORTANT: Don't think of money above our goal as 100% profit for us, since we still have to pay 10% to Kickstarter/Amazon (their fees) and spend money to manufacture and ship the rewards.
Wait. What's this Kickstarter Project about anyway?
We want to make a TV series about the unseen sides of Africa. To do that, we need to show TV executives a trailer and a pilot episode.
We've invested tens of thousands of dollars to film several terabytes of footage and to make the trailer (see it above), Now we need your help to make the one-hour pilot episode. In exchange for your help, we're showering our backers with awesome rewards!
To learn more this Kickstarter project, watch this:
If you don't know anything about Kickstarter, learn more.
What's The Unseen Africa TV series about?
The Unseen Africa is an adventure travel TV series that will take viewers to all 54 African countries. Think Rick Steves meets Bear Grylls. Or Anthony Bourdain Goes Beyond Food. The host, Francis Tapon, takes you beyond the tired African cliches of safaris, wars, AIDS, pestilence, poverty, and pyramids.
Part documentary, part reality show, The Unseen Africa will show sides of Africa that few see. You’ll watch African entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing their countries, listen to locals describe what life is really like in Africa, and see remote places far off-the-tourist track.
We're going to make National Geographic and CNN smack themselves and say, "Why the hell didn't we think of covering that?"
What makes this TV series special and unique?
Have you noticed how the travel media usually covers the same old countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, South Africa, and a couple of others. Yawn!
What about Comoros? Gabon? Togo? Burkina Faso? What's the difference between Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea? Who the hell knows!? But let's find out together! There are dozens of African countries that are largely unseen!
Moreover, even the well-known countries have plenty of hidden gems. For example, do Kenyans take religion seriously? Do Tanzanians have any national unity? How do gays and atheists fare in Egypt?
Similarly, have you ever noticed that we're constantly seeing the same old tired images of Africa? They always fall in one of two categories:
- THE GOOD: safaris, wildlife, tribal dancing, pyramids
- THE BAD: war, famine, disease, chaos
Double yawn! There's so much more to Africa than these traditional topics! C'mon peeps!
What about stuff that is neither good nor bad? Like how's everyday life in Africa? What do they cook? How does African middle-class city life compare to middle-class city life in America? What percentage of North Africans wait until they are married to lose their virginity? How do Africans see their future?
Let's capture Africa's unseen sides!
What will a typical episode be like?
Most episodes will feature:
1. Interviews with everyday Africans to capture their voices, perspective, and thoughts— we will move beyond the cliche of simply filming primitive tribes dancing.
2. How the cultural norms are evolving and what role technology plays in that.
3. African entrepreneurs who are transforming Africa in the 21st century.
4. Evidence showing our progress against malaria and AIDS in Africa.
5. Life of middle-class Africans to contrast the standard image of abject poverty.
6. Francis climbing to the highest peak of each African country.
What's the scoop on the pilot episode?
Three months spent in Morocco will be condensed into a one-hour show, which will be divided into seven acts.
Please note that in TV-land a "one-hour show" is really about 44 minutes long. When you toss in 16 minutes of commercials, you get an hour-long show. Kickstarter backers will NOT have to endure commercials.
We will deliver the pilot episode (which covers Morocco) by November 2014.
There are three reasons we picked Morocco for the pilot episode's location:
1) That's where Francis's four-year, 54-country journey started. So it's chronological.
2) Morocco offers an incredibly wide variety of settings that help make a compelling initial episode.
3) We can show how there are plenty of unseen things even a touristic African country like Morocco.
How many episodes per season?
The first season could have 14 episodes. With 54 countries, that means the TV series could last four seasons.
Alternatively, we can combine multiple countries in one episode, thereby squeezing the entire four-year journey into 1-3 seasons.
This Kickstarter project is about making the first episode, not the whole season.
Who is the host?
Francis Tapon is the host of The Unseen Africa. He combines Rick Steves's travel knowledge with Bear Grylls's sense of adventure. Here's a bit more about him:
- Authored two travel books: Hike Your Own Hike and The Hidden Europe.
- Hiked across America four times, including on the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
- Was the first person to do a round trip on the Continental Divide Trail.
- Walked across Spain twice.
- Trekked across the entire High Atlas Mountain Range in Morocco.
- Visited about 100 countries.
- One of the finalists for the California Outdoors Hall of Fame.
- A Harvard MBA, but he even considers hostels a luxury that he rarely utilizes.
Amazon.com and Lincoln Mercury scanned America to find the person who best personified the dream of traveling the world. They picked Francis and profiled him in the video below:
In short, when Francis wants something badly, only a carefully placed Snickers bar will stop him. Sign up for Francis Tapon's newsletter and connect with him on:
Can you give me 5 reasons I should pledge?
1.All the rewards will arrive before the holidays, so they make great Christmas gifts!
2. We're giving free shipping everywhere. Yeah, even Timbuktu.
3. If we receive less than $20,000 in pledges, then your credit card will NOT be charged. It's always all or nothing with Kickstarter. Also, Amazon.com will securely process your credit card, so it's safe.
4. All our rewards come with a money-back guarantee. Yup, so even if your credit card is charged, you can always demand a refund within 30 days of receiving the rewards.
5. All our rewards are CUMULATIVE! You will always get everything that people who donated less than you will get, including the limited rewards below your pledge level. For example, if you pledge $49, you'll get all the items in the $30, $35, $40, and $45 rewards, even if they're "all gone!" If you pledge $9,000, then you'll get a staggering 66 rewards! (The $10,000 reward is the ONLY reward that does not give you cumulative rewards).
Where can I learn more about the rewards?
Follow the links below to learn more about each reward; in fact, you'll be able to sample some of the rewards via those links:
- Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America is Francis Tapon's first book. It's 352 pages long.
- The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us is Francis Tapon's second book. It's 750 pages long.
- The Hidden Europe slideshow has 85-minutes worth of slides, a perfect complement to the book!
- Traversing Spain Twice is a 40-minute video available as a digital download.
- Continental Divide Trail Yo-Yo is a 77-minute downloadable video about Francis Tapon's round-trip on the CDT.
- The Pacific Crest Trail slideshow is a one-hour slideshow about Francis Tapon's southbound journey on the PCT.
Can I get a T-shirt for The Unseen Africa?
Yup! When you pledge $149+, you will get 17 rewards, including the fancy performance T-shirt below. It's not cotton, because in Africa, you're going to sweat and you'll want something that wicks away moisture fast. Dri-fit fabric costs more than cotton, but you're worth it!
Will the DVD be in the Blu-Ray or Standard HD format?
Both! And they'll both be Region Free so you can play it anywhere on Earth! Remember:
- If you pledge $49 OR you get one of the LIMITED REWARDS #3-6, then you'll get the standard HD DVD (and many other things).
- If you pledge $99 or more, then you'll have the option to get a Blu-Ray DVD. Once the campaign ends, those who pledged $99+ will get to pick whether they want the Blu-Ray DVD version or a standard DVD. If you're getting multiple DVDs (which is only possible if you pledge $149 or more), then you will be able to get some in the Blu-Ray format and some in the standard HD format.
Can I hear one of the ringtones?
How do I get the downloadable files?
Unless you get the Blu-Ray DVD (which is available when you pledge $99 or more), then you will have to download all the digital files. Ebooks are only a few megabytes, but each video is about 1 GB. So make sure you have the bandwidth to handle that.
Because there's far more space on a Blu-Ray DVD than on a standard DVD, we will be able to burn all the digital products on the Blu-Ray so that you don't have to download gigabytes of data. So pledge $99 for the convenience!
Where can I learn more about the rewards?
- Vagabundo Magazine subscription $20+ pledges
- Jacks 'r Better Micro-Carabiner $49+ pledges
- ExOfficio™ BugsAway® Paisley Bandana $249+ pledges
- ExOfficio™ Bugsaway® Purdom Hiker sock $499+ pledges
- LiteTrail G-Line Cordage $499+ pledges
- ExOfficio™ Give-N-Go® Underwear $749+ pledges
- ExOfficio™ BugsAway® Adventure Mesh Hat $999+ pledges
- SteriPEN Traveler $999+ pledges
- Wimdu $100 Voucher $2,499+ pledges
- Parallax ELEV-8 Quadcopter Drone $8,999 pledge
How will you spend the $20,000?
- $10,000 will go to a top video editor who has over 200 TV credits. He put together the awesome trailer at the top of this page. It will take him hundreds of hours to go through the two terabytes of footage that we filmed over our three months in Morocco.
- $2,500 will go to fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards.
- $2,000 will go to the colorist, which is necessary to make the pilot beautiful.
- $2,000 will go to the sound mixer.
- $2,000 will go to Kickstarter and Amazon fees.
- $1,500 will go to David Hamilton, the show's Composer. He will compose the original music for pilot. He's superb.
It's a bare bones budget, and all of the crew are working at far below their usual rates because they believe in the project. That's why $20,000 is the rock bottom minimum and we hope to raise much more.
What if you get substantially over funded?
We will spend any excess funds on five things, in order of priority:
1. Shipping rewards to our wonderful Kickstarter Backers across the planet!
2. Covering any unexpected cost overruns incurred while making the pilot.
3. Hiring an amazing Producer to help us shop the show to the TV networks.
4. Submitting the pilot to film festivals.
5. Making a second episode. It will cover Mauritania and maybe more.
Do you have any sponsors already?
Yes, 13 companies have already supported The Unseen Africa. Although they haven't given cash yet, they bet on The Unseen Africa one year ago when Francis pitched them just a vague idea. They donated gear to help us out. So for their early support, we are rewarding them by giving them attention now.
The easiest way to become a sponsor now is to donate $5,000. To thank you, we'll put your logo/name on the pilot episode!
Here are our 13 sponsors so far:
ExOfficio makes clothes that are ideal for the adventure traveler. Their apparel is functional and light enough for when you're doing a thru-hike, yet stylish enough to wear in a city. Francis is wearing their clothes throughout the 4-year trip.
ZPacks makes the lightest backpacking shelters. They also have an excellent selection of ultralight gear. They've agreed to supply Francis's home for the four years.
Parallax is the maker of the Elev-8 Quadcopter, which we used to film aerial shots. The benefits to this system are a stable platform, with no mechanical linkages for a small maneuverable and agile aircraft.
ikan is sponsoring us with their Flyweight Camcorder Shoulder Rig for our heavy camcorder. They're also supplying an awesome light and battery accessories.
Jacks 'R' Better makes the best sleeping bags/quilts available. They use top quality down insulation and are lighter than anything else out there. Francis used their quilt on his 7-month, 9,000-km hike on the CDT. He's happy to use them again. They're also supplying us with a beanie and two amazing headlamps. They're not slick marketers, but their products are the best in the world.
SteriPEN is supplying us with a SteriPEN which provides an ultraportable means to purify water via UV rays.
IceTech USA is providing us their top-of-the-line solar panel, the i12K and its camo solar array. This will help power our gadgets when in remote areas.
DeLorme's InReach SE product allows Francis to email, Tweet, and post on Facebook via satellites. Unlike SPOT, DeLorme's InReach completely covers Africa (and anywhere on the planet, thanks to the Iridium satellites). You can see where Francis is now.
Wimdu lets you rent out rooms, apartments, or houses from locals! It's an affordable way to travel and you're more integrated into the travel experience than in a hotel.
Lite Trail is a new, innovative backpacking gear company worth watching. They've supplied us with backpacking goodies.
The Scrubba is a slick way to wash your clothes when you have limited water and/or no access to washing machines. The product came out of a highly successful Indiegogo project.
Absolutely Prepared™ is an educational organization specializing in general preparedness training.
The show owns the following domain names that all point to the same page.
- Africa55.com (in case a new country is created)
What if I can't pledge money?
Then steal from your grandma! Just kidding! Even if you don't have a few bucks to spare, we still need your help in spreading the word! So please:
- Post this Kickstarter page on your Facebook wall.
- Tweet it on Twitter.
- Email your buddies about it.
- Talk it up at social events.
- Like The Unseen Africa Facebook page.
- Tell Steven Spielberg about it.
And if you do pledge, we would still love it if you do the above steps. $20,000 is a lot of money, so we need this campaign to go viral. And that's where you come in. Spread it around!
What are the four most helpful things I can do to help this project?
Risks and challenges
There's an old saying whenever you try to do something big: "Everything takes twice as long as you think and costs twice as much money."
Indeed, there's an unfortunate habit among many of the Kickstarter campaigns: they fall way behind schedule. According to CNN, 84% of Kickstarter's top projects shipped late!
That's why we're being more conservative than your grandpa.
Our goal is to under-promise and over-deliver.
We want to be one of the few Kickstarter campaigns that deliver rewards before they say they will.
Nevertheless, there are risks:
* WE MAY FALL BEHIND SCHEDULE. Like all Kickstarter projects, we are subject to Murphy's Law. However, if things fall behind schedule, we'll update you ASAP. Kickstarter projects which ignore their backers after the campaign need to be flogged. Hard.
* THE SHOW MAY NOT BE EXACTLY WHAT YOU IMAGINE. Despite our best efforts to communicate our vision, it may not match what's in your brain. Remember, 1-hour TV shows are really 44-mins, which is why our pilot will be 44 mins, to allow for commercials. Also, there's a risk that you may have seen some of the "unseen" places we will show in the pilot. So don't get angry at us if that happens.
* YOUR INTERNET BANDWIDTH MAY NOT BE HIGH ENOUGH TO DOWNLOAD OUR DIGITAL FILES. Some of our digital rewards are huge video files. If you have lousy bandwidth (like many Africans have), then downloading the rewards may be slow or even impossible. If you're unsure, get the Blu-Ray DVD for the show (which includes all the digital extras) or get the HD DVD and just hope that you can download the other digital rewards.
* YOU FORGET TO FILL OUT OUR POST-FUNDING SURVEY: After we raise $20,000, we will email you a survey, which will ask you for your shipping address. If you don't completely fill out the survey, we won't ship you your rewards.
* YOUR GIFT GETS LOST IN THE MAIL. This is a real risk if you live in a country where the mail service sucks. Make sure you provide us with a reliable address and we'll track stuff on our end.
* FRANCIS COULD GET KIDNAPPED IN AFRICA. If something lousy happens to Francis, this project will get delayed. On the other hand, such a negative event will encourage The New York Times to cover it, which would mean we would get flooded with attention and money. Sweetness!
Congrats on making it to the end of this Kickstarter Project page. Now please take ACTION:
2. Spread the word.
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